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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Big Pops = skateboards for adult-size skaters

When I got back into skating in 2009 after about 18 years of sporadic skateboarding, one of the biggest challenges was the small size of the skateboards. The largest popsicle stick shape board I could find at the time was 8.5 x 33 from Zoo York or Beer City, then, in 2010, Creature started having the 9.0 x 33 that was a decent size. But many of the decks I skated at the time were around 8.0" - 8.25" wide, with wheelbases between 13.5"-15". The three most common problems I was having was "duck walking" when my front foot was unexpectedly on the nose of the board, "ollie northing" when my front foot unexpectedly came off the front of the board when I was ollieing, and foot injuries on the arches, big toes, and heels of my feet from landing with my feet half off of the board. Duck walking was caused by my front foot being unexpectedly too far forward and me not knowing how to keep my weight centered to prevent the tail from lifting. Through practice, I was able to overcome duck walking. Unexpected ollie norths were an issue, though, for the longest time, as were the multiple foot injuries from landing on such a narrow deck. Over time, I started searching and scouring to find bigger decks that still had proportions like popsicle stick shaped decks. At the same time, a piece of longboarding and a piece of skateboarding were converging in the sliding discipline. Longskateboarders were crafting slide decks that started having symmetrical nose and tails, called double kicks at times. Bustin Boards, Earthwing Boards, and Rayne were out in front on the big double kick discipline, with Arbor and Sector 9 coming up close behind. Longskateboarders started ollieing these big decks, doing shove its, and even eventually kick flipping and 360 flipping these big decks. The nose and tail of slide decks grew longer until the proportions started evening out, and the big popsicle was born. I call them "big pops" for short. Once I started skating big pops, I didn't want to go back.

So, for those who, like me, enjoy skating larger decks, here's a current (partial, to be updated after finals next week) roundup of big pops decks:

Earthwing Boards is a favorite of mine. I have 5 of the Hightailer decks to last me a long time. I'm still skating my first Hightailer that is still straight, stiff, and poppy after daily skating for almost a year. I started with longboard specific traditional kingpin trucks, Bear Trucks Polar Bears 180s, then moved to Newton longboard trucks 180s, which are a low version of reverse kingpin trucks.
http://www.daddiesboardshop.com/earthwing-hightailer-longboard-deck-43
Earthwing Hightailer. 10x43, 23" wheelbase, 8.4" nose and tail. Perfect fit for my size 14 feet, 34" inseam, and 46R shoulders.

Earthwing Hightailer. I used Bear Trucks Polar Bear 180s 9.8" trucks for a long time. Good trucks, but I was having wheelbite issues on sharp carves in bowls.
Earthwing Hightailer. I'm now skating Newton longboard trucks 180 - check them out at http://newtonskate.com/
Another pic of my Earthwing Hightailer. 

My Earthwing Hightailer. It isn't East Coast skating unless you're dodging puddles stained dark by fallen leaves.

Arbor Longboards is a consistent provider of plus size decks, most around 9" x 36":
http://arborcollective.com/skateboards/products/
http://socalskateshop.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=58150
http://socalskateshop.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=58143
http://socalskateshop.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=58155

For this one, I'm estimating the wheelbase is around 21.75" - 23.75". Skull Skates Diehard Wizard 9.25" x 42":
http://socalskateshop.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=60888
http://skullskates.com/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/1_42/products_id/1402

34 comments:

  1. Could you extend on what you like about running RKP trucks like Newtons on a park setup?
    Great post, I love my Gravity BE40 (22"wb and light)

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    1. The primary benefit from using RKP trucks on my Hightailer is that I get turning that feels the same as the shorter wheelbase and I also don't get wheelbite. On my Yoni 41 I still use TKP trucks, either Indy 169s or Polar Bears 180s, depending on whether I want to do more ollie tricks (Indys) or I'm just carving around (Polar Bears). The Hightailer has the Newtons for everything: carving, ollies, boardslides, everything.

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  2. Second that, would love some more feedback on the trucks, how they handle for for both transition and tech stuff etc...

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    1. I really like how low the Newtons are. I use 58-60 mm Bones SPF wheels. The Newtons carve really well and feel a lot lighter in weight than the Bear Grizzly RKP trucks I was using on the Hightailer before. With the Newtons, I can ollie the Hightailer just like I can my Yoni 41. The overall responsiveness of the board is faster with the Newtons than the Grizzly trucks or any TKP truck. I tried the Newtons on my Yoni 41 but they made the nose and tail pop too low and the effective wheelbase (distance between axles) was shorter and it made the turning too quick.
      The Newtons have 9.84" axles, are 53.5 mm in height, and weigh 385 grams.

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  3. Earthwing Boards is a great choice, really. There are pretty good longboards out there for those who feel likewise about skateboards being rather small!

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    1. Agreed. Earthwing has stopped making the Yoni 41, the Hightailer, and the Yoni 39. Earthwing's NLS decks are doing so well that Earthwing is concentrating on those types of longboards. Earthwing still has the Thing double kick big pops deck.

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  4. yes check pocket pistols, pool king, gravity, comet, madrid and no future too.
    loaded, omen and nelson longboards have big skates too.

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    1. Thanks, that's good advice. The Omen Sugar double kick looks pretty nice. I didn't know Pocket Pistols and Pool King made big pops, but will check them out. Nelson's Siphon looks awesome: http://nelsonlongboards.com/collections/boards/products/siphon-38

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  5. Interesting that you're running Newtons on a big dk. I've wanted to do the same thing, but haven't seen a lot of people doing it so I haven't pulled the trigger yet. Even Newton really isn't marketing their trucks for that purpose. Would love to see a review.

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    1. I think I finally have a pretty thorough set of experiences to write a review. It took a long, long time to get the bushing configuration right to make the deck feel good, but once I got it configured, I haven't adjusted them once.

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  6. One of the biggest challenges was the small size of the skateboards. Keep it up!! Thanks for sharing!! :)

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    1. Yep, I completely agree. Skateboards got really small. Mike Vallely said in an interview that when he was a young, unsponsored skater, he saw a demo from the Bones Brigade. Vallely said he was pretty impressed that Rodney Mullen caught some air on a quarter pipe while riding a tiny freestyle board. Mullen's freestyle deck at that time would have been about 7" wide and 26" long. In the late 1980's, Vallely gradually pushed the skating world to a more symmetrical shape for street boards, leading to the famous "Barnyard" Vallely pro model deck that had a pretty square nose. Matt Hensley over at H-Street was also supportive of this idea, as were Jason Lee at Blind and Jeremy Klein at World Industries. When World Industries finally got Mullen to skate a larger board, the decks were about 9.2" x 33" with 9" trucks. Mullen's influence in the 1990s had the 7x26 freestyle boards and 9x33 street boards converge around the mid point between the two sizes, 8x32, with sizes ranging from 7.3x30.5 on the small end to 8.25x32.5 on the larger end. This continued from about 1996 until 2010 (yes, that long!). In 2010, skaters, Lizard King and Chris Cole most notably, as well as the Creature team, started being unashamed about skating 8.5"x32.5" decks and 149 trucks. Creature pushed the sizes up and up, until we were back to 9x33 like in 1992.
      For some of us, though, that still wasn't big enough. Thank goodness for longboard manufacturers diverting some of their record profits to making big DK decks and helping out big skaters like me and others.

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  7. Hi Bertrand,

    I love ride big pops. The only thing I don't like compared to smaller boards is that it is much difficult to do kick turns and stall. I was thinking about get a bamboo board like loaded overland or kanthaka witch are pretty lite and would minimize the problem of weight. Do you ever tried any bamboo deck like these?

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    1. I have skated bamboo decks. Bamboo decks are very nice. They're much stiffer than maple decks and they do not respond so drastically to changes in atmospheric moisture like damp weather or hot car trunks (my skateboards always ride with me in the cabin, not in the trunk, but not everybody has that luxury). I wish I could find a bamboo deck in the 10x41 size I like so much.
      For kick turns and stalling, the big pops are slower to move, but I have gotten accustomed to it and they now feel comfortable for most things. The Hightailer still feels big when I'm skating transition and doing coping tricks, but my Yoni 41 feels just fine. I've found that it's important to have the right placement of the trucks to give the tail and nose both the right length and the right leverage angle. Many of the big pops decks have noses and tails the same length as with smaller decks, somewhere around 6.75-7.25". This is far too short and makes the deck overly resistant to ollies and nollies, and, by the same physical properties, kick turns and manuals. I think the Yoni 41 and the Hightailer have the truck holes drilled at the right place and the concave at just the right points. The Yoni feels most responsive with TKP trucks, the Hightailer feels most responsive with RKP trucks.

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  8. UPDATE: just bought a HT!!! Hughe thing... Need to put more time on it but i am liking it very much. Have it on polar bears and might redrill as you said on another post.
    Thanks for the advice!

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    1. Yep, the Hightailer's a gigantic skateboard. Feels really nice at speed in the park. I'm trying to learn how to do ollies at higher and higher speeds on it.
      The Polar Bear trucks are nice but the redrilling really, really helped. The Newtons are in the original holes drilled by Earthwing and they feel absolutely perfect at that location. On my Hightailer, I was good on the Polar Bears for months until I got comfortable enough to do high speed carves through the pockets; I started getting wheelbite on the front heel side during frontside carves and it was enough to shake my confidence. Switching to the Newtons eliminated the wheelbite and also made the board feel more responsive overall.

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  9. Just found this blog. Very cool. just started skating again after 25 years. I'm 5'10" and I'm really liking my shipyard deck that's 32" x 9" wide.

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    1. Thanks! I hope you enjoy skating again. I know I do.

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  10. Any advantages or disadvantages of riding a square or round tail deck?

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    1. Most of the time, the shape of the tail is not enough to make a difference in performance. It's possible that round tails make ollies feel more consistent, but on decks properly sized to my body size, I don't notice any difference.
      One advantage to round tails and noses is that the deck is more resistant to chipping and delaminating from when it gets away from the skater and hits an obstacle. So, the edges of the deck are stronger with a smoother shape. A rounded corner provides a broader radius and can dissipate energy more broadly across the surface.

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  11. good to have you back! thaks for all the answers!

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  12. Hey, i discovered your blog a week ago, and i read it daily so far its great. I came here to get advice for which trucks to buy.
    I discovered skateboarding as a new hobby. Rolling strong since 2 weeks now. Its fun and really great, so i decided to step up my setup.
    Since trucks are long lasting buy, i have to buy them
    thoughtfully.
    Sadly i got no friends with experience or even just boards with different trucks to test, its hard which to choose. Since you got plenty of experience with different brands, i thought you might help me, its greatly appreciated.
    I want to skate mostly on street and some small parks which are located here, and i want to try different board sizes from 7.75 to 8.25 (didnt find the right size yet).
    I had thunder, but i really want something now. I wanted the Venture/Venture light (for lower ollie effort, which is better for a beginner?) or Indys. Then i discovered your blog and read plenty of your reviews, and now my choice got more diffcult.
    Destructo and Theeve, which i hadnt on my list, excels with great build quality. Now i have to decide between 4 brands, which isnt easy at all.
    In general is there a truck which fits the 7.75 to 8.25 range. I read that Venture 5.2s are only up to 8 for example.

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    1. Thanks for writing, Dave.
      Ventures aren't so much lower effort as they are "slower" effort. With Ventures, there is more initial resistance when you're pushing the tail down with your back foot. This extra resistance makes the trucks less reactive to small changes in foot placement or weight distribution, making the skateboard have a larger margin for error when doing manuals, kick turns, and ollies. Independent trucks, in comparison, have much less initial resistance to pushing the tail down, making them more reactive for ollies and manuals but also requiring more precision with foot placement and weight distribution.
      Interestingly, all three primary Ermico trucks (Independent, Thunder, and Venture), allow for quick recovery and roll out when landing tricks slightly askew. What I mean by this is that Independent, Thunder, and Venture trucks are all good about allowing you to land on the bolts and not having to tic tac out of the landing if you land slightly askew. Other trucks that promote stable landings and clean roll away are Bear Trucks Polar Bears, Theeve, Destructo D2 (but not D1).
      As for Theeve and Destructo, unfortunately you will likely have few choices because inventory stock for both truck brands are running low for about a year now.
      For the 7.75-8.25" board width, Venture 5.2, Independent 139, or Thunder 147 will be the right sizes.
      My recommendation for you is Venture 5.2, and if you don't like Ventures, then try Independent 139, and if you don't like Independents, try Thunder 147. If you're still not feeling comfortable on your trucks, try Bear Trucks Polar Bears. eBay is a great place to get used trucks so you don't spend all your money trying out different trucks. You'll save time and money by getting used trucks that look like they were only used a few times, that way the bushings are probably still good. Don't worry about color or forged baseplates or hollow kingpins or other features while you're figuring out trucks. You're trying to see which truck's geometry feels best for you.

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    2. Thank you for your answer i really appreciate it!
      I almost settled with Venture based an your Venture review and your comments.
      You mentioned that Destructo D1s doesnt provide the stability and room for errors like Ventures do, because i had them on my list.
      What about the D2s compared to Venture? I dont want to buy Theeve yet, because the price is high and you said somewhere the Ventures have a more crisp ppop compared to the soft pop of the Theeve ones. Your described the difference very well and i kinda get it.
      Since im from Germany, i can easily get Theeve and Destructo trucks, but may i ask why the inventory stock is running low? Because of their popularity? OR do they stop making trucks?
      I almost want to get the Venture Hi, but the Venture low seems to be better for street and some park. Even you recommended Venture low with 1/8 risers to be a really good all-around setup. But to be honest, i dont like the idea of taking of the risers for a dedicated skate session, because there is none for me. Im mostly crusing around to get comfy riding the board and to stop by a outdoor skatepark sometimes to learn how to drop and ollie for a little bit.Independent are more carvy trucks, thats why i stick with Venture for my needs, but Venture Hi are more on the carvy side then the Lows, that what bothers me.
      I was thinking of getting the light version with a hollow kingpin, which is only 5 bucks more than the standart version. Do you really dont recommend to pay the higher price because its not worth it? In your 149 comparison you mentioned the light version does help with ollie-ing, and i like the idea to spend more money if it does help me as a beginner.
      Do you even recommend the board range i want to skate and test? You personally skate much bigger boards, and the skate industry changed to bigger boards aswell in the past years, maybe i should start with 8.5 and get 149 trucks? (im 6'1 and 145 lbs).
      Thats all i wanted to ask, i know many questions, but since i got nobody to ask, and you got plenty of experience i thoguht this is a good idea. I really appreciate it, that you take your time to answer them!

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    3. I'm not sure why Destructo trucks are harder to find in the USA at the moment. Theeve seems to be concentrating on the CSX and TiAX lines right now.
      Destructo D1 is easy to find but has a different turning and are higher than the D2.
      Well, you had said that you were looking at 7.75-8.25 decks, but if you're 6'1", you could ride a much larger board if you like. I think that your shoe size helps determine the width of your board, the length of your legs helps determine length, shoulder width helps determine wheelbase. I wear size 46 or 47 shoes (13-14 in USA sizes) and I like 9.5-10" wide decks, but my preferences are not consistent with the norm. If your shoe size is around 43-45, you can easily skate an 8.5" deck or even an 8.75" deck. The Venture 5.8s would be really nice on those sizes.
      For Indy, Venture, and Thunder, I actually do recommend the forged baseplates and the hollow kingpins and axles. Lighter trucks help in many ways. Forged baseplates are stronger and lighter. Hollow kingpins and hollow axles lose weight in a good place for strength.
      Keep me informed about your set up when you decide on everything!

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    4. YOu talking about different Theeve than the CSX and TiaX lines? I thought these where the only ones they have. But i think they doesnt suit my needs like Destructo does.
      By recommending me the D2s, i hope you meant the D2 lites, not the D2 Pros which are impossible to get, because i think they are discontinued. I saw a discussion about them in the comment section under the review, are the D2 Lites worth? They dont have the Bones/Bones Licensed bushings, and i saw a review on reddit from 2015 , where the author said the (new) stock bushings are impossible to break in.
      Im really concerning getting the Destructo, if your recommendation is meant for the D2 lites and not the pros, because the lites i can get easily in all sizes. Their build quality looks just great. Otherwise the Venture (High?) Light Version is on 2nd place to get except i get a good deal on used Venture normal ones. And if by now i ddidnt find the right truck, i go Indys then Thunder like you said.
      Im on 43-44 usually, and i decided to get a 8.25 cheap mini logo deck for the start. They are from powell peralta and i heard good things about them, and i really have no experience on deck brands, so i think that will do it for now.
      Last thing i want to know to simply get the best out of my trucks is, how to refine them. I saw that you change bushings and washers a lot, so whats your recommendation on tuning the Destructo and Venture trucks in terms of bushings and washers. For now i will go stock for sure, but in the future that will change, and you got plenty of experience on doing that.

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    5. Theeve used to have TiKING and TiH lines. TiKING was a TiAX truck with a hollow titanium kingpin. TiH was a different type of truck altogether: the axle and the hanger were one piece of titanium. TiH trucks were incredibly strong and lightweight. I wish Theeve still made the TiH.
      For Destructo trucks, I noticed only a weight difference between the D2 and the D2 lites. Stock Destructo bushings are stiff, that's true, and they will really never "break in" - what you feel when you first ride them is pretty much what they'll feel like forever. The Bones bushings are direct replacements and do well in the Destructo D2 line. Destructo build quality, as you've pointed out, is high. They're good trucks.
      Mini Logo decks are nice, even if they don't last that long. Good decks to learn on, because they're cheap enough that you can replace them more often to find the size you like. In my experiences, Mini Logo decks last about 3 weeks of daily skating. I hated the Super Slide Treatment (SST) coating they used to put on the bottom of the Mini Logo decks, I really hope they don't do that anymore.
      I discussed Destructo bushing options: stock are fine, Bones are also fine. With Venture trucks, the stock bushings take 1-2 days to break in, but they are pretty nice when they are broken in. However, some skaters have told me that every now and then they get a Venture stock bushing that never gets broken in. When this happens, the skaters put the bushings from their old Ventures in the new Ventures. I've also read that Venture team riders do the same thing, Corey Duffel is one of them.
      I liked Bones bushings on Venture Low trucks, but not on Venture High trucks. I liked the stock bushings on Venture High trucks.
      Hope this helps!

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  13. I am a newbie riders and still riding an old board of my brother. Recently want o replace my old board with new one which can give great speed when I go for downhill riding. I have found some Best Longboards here but can't choice the bearing and trucks.

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  14. I would stay away from all trucks except, independent or thunder, I always go to Street Dreamz Boardshop, they are a core skater owned skateshop and the owner is a skateboarder who became a paraplegic, he knows his stuff and will help you find exactly what your looking for. They also have a online store which helps, I live in the US and he still ships stuff right to my door check them out!

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  15. Have you stopped updating the site? I hope that's not the case.

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  16. has anyone known of or tried a electric bike? I got mines at http://www.electricbikesandscooters.com and Ilove it, goes over 20+MPH and 20 mile range on 1 battery charge.

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  17. I hope the blog isn't done? I wanted to proclaim my joy with the Tensor 5.75 Mag Light Regs!

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  18. me too, hope this is going to start again soon! in love with my hightailer!

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  19. This blog is invaluable. I really hope it does come back. As a 30+ skater it feels really important to see reviews on equipment that actually describes how it skates and what it specializes in.

    I can't even describe how aggravating it is to try and find out about a certain company only for all the comments to be "SKATE MY BRAND. ALL OTHER COMPANIES SUUUUCK! YOU SUCK IF YOU DON'T USE (my brand)!" Okay... Maybe I want something more specialized than Indy's and Bones STF.

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